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Running out of energy

Total UK energy production was a record 13.5% lower in 2011 than it was in 2010. This meant that we had a net import dependency of 36.5%, the highest level since 1976, according to statistics just released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The UK is becoming increasingly reliant on energy imports.

Oil production was 17.5% lower than in 2010 and continued a downward trend which has been going on for the last decade, and meant our oil production is now at its lowest level since the 1970s.

At the same time our natural gas production was 21% lower last year than it was in 2010, with gross imports of natural gas now greater than gross production for the first time since 1967. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) accounted for 47% of total gas imports.

The DECC did note that the share of renewable energy in electricity generation rose by 2.5 percentage points last year compared to the previous year, to a record total of 9.5%. Overall, hydro and wind generation was 55.5% higher than it was in 2010.

So, all in all, we are dependent on imports for over one-third of our total energy needs, and it is thought that this could rise to 75% by 2020. Energy security is obviously a major issue. The UK has been increasing its imports of LNG from sources in the Middle East, in order to reduce dependence on gas supplies from Russia.

However, the Middle East is not the most secure place in the world to import energy from, witness the recent surge in oil prices brought on by fears of Israeli intervention in Iran.

Renewables are not going to fill any gaps in the foreseeable future and only this week two energy companies have said that it is no longer viable for them to construct nuclear power stations in the UK.

Securing energy supplies cannot be done on a short-term basis and the government is going to have to come up with a more coherent policy.

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Posted in Energy supply and security

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